How to Become a Chef in South Carolina
South Carolina is in the heart of the south, and it’s a great place for food and culinary arts. The food culture and history here are rich and diverse and perfect for any aspiring chef. Learn and train to be a cook or chef in South Carolina for a great experience and future. With the right training and skills, you can expect to be able to work in a restaurant, hotel, resort or cafeteria, or even become an entrepreneur, opening up a food truck or starting a catering business. [En Español]
Requirements for Becoming a Chef in South Carolina
You don’t need any specific licensing or education to begin working as a chef or a cook in the state. Most employers will want to see that you at least have a high school diploma or GED. And, if you don’t go to culinary school, you may be hired to work and train in a kitchen, but you will have to start at the bottom. A degree or certificate program at a culinary school is a better way to get started in this career. It will provide you with foundational knowledge and skills so that you are ready to start working as a cook right away.
Culinary Arts Programs in South Carolina
If completing a culinary program seems like the right path to start your career in cooking, look for those in South Carolina that are accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC). This accreditation assures that the education you receive is of the best quality. All of the following culinary programs are ACFEFAC-accredited:
- Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College. This Greenville culinary school is a leader in the industry and has exemplary status from the ACFEFAC. For a general education in cooking and kitchens, choose the associate’s degree program in culinary arts technology. The school also has shorter certificate programs in baking and pastry arts, culinary education and sustainable agriculture, which are useful as additions to a degree for specialization.
- Culinary Institute of Charleston, Trident Technical College. The associate’s degree programs offered here in culinary arts and baking and pastry technology are also given exemplary status. Here you’ll get a great classroom education and plenty of hands-on hours in the laboratory kitchen. Students also have the chance to work at the campus’s restaurants.
- Spartanburg Community College. For a shorter program that is still accredited, consider the certificate program in culinary arts at Spartanburg. You can also choose to complete the school’s two-year degree program. The certificate takes just 48 weeks to complete and includes 37 credits of coursework. Students learn in the classroom and in the kitchen.
Certification and Licensing
The American Culinary Federation (ACF) can provide you with nationally-recognized certifications in one or more of 16 culinary specialties. However, certification is not required for working as a cook or a chef. You may want to take the written and practical exams for the appropriate certifications in order to prove to employers that you are knowledgeable and skilled and to earn a greater salary wherever you land a job.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
If you are looking for a stable career and one that will offer a number of opportunities as you get started, working in the culinary field in South Carolina is not a bad choice. Growth in the culinary industry is strong throughout the state. For instance, the number of jobs for chefs and head cooks is growing by 20.8 percent, while that for food preparation workers is growing by over 24 percent. This growth is expected to continue through 2026 at least.
You can expect an average annual salary of $37,110 as a head cook or chef in South Carolina, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are also opportunities to earn more than this. The top 10 percent of head cooks are making $62,510 on average in the state. And food service managers make about $50,000 per year on average.
Working as a Chef in South Carolina
If you love southern food, you’ll enjoy working as a cook in South Carolina. With a culinary degree or certificate you could land a job in a restaurant, where most cooks and chefs work. Or, look for a job at a resort along the coast, at a golf course, at a spa or at one of the state’s many hotels. Most opportunities will be in resort towns like Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach and in and around the state’s largest cities, Columbia and Charleston. No matter where you work, in a culinary job you will be enjoying a creative and exciting career.
- Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC
- Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, SC
- Lower Savannah South Carolina nonmetropolitan area
- Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, SC
- Spartanburg, SC
Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC Area
The Art Institute of Charleston
24 N. Market St, Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Baking & Pastry – Associate Program, Baking & Pastry – Certificate Program
The Art Institute of Charleston offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The college has in the order of 488 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition are generally about $17,592 for each academic year. Books and supplies can cost roughly $1,500, although this will depend on the program.
Trident Technical College
7000 Rivers Avenue, Charleston, South Carolina 29423-8067
Baking and Pastry – Certificate Program, Culinary Arts Technology – Associate Program
Trident Technical College offers various Certificate program options for chefs, a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Charleston. This public college has roughly 15,043 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Tuition fees for in-district students are likely to be around $4,155 and are $4,607 and $7,837 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost about $2,000, depending on the program chosen.
Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, SC Area
Bob Jones University
1700 Wade Hampton Boulavard, Greenville, South Carolina 29614-0001
Culinary Arts – Associate Program
Bob Jones University’s Associate-level Culinary Arts program is taught at their campus in the city of Greenville. This is a full, 4-year private college with 3,005 students, of which 89% are undergraduates. The university is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission. The retention rate of full-time students at this college is 80%. Tuition fees are around $15,550 yearly. Study materials can cost about $1,200, depending on the program chosen.
Greenville Technical College
506 S Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville, South Carolina 29606
Culinary – Associate Program
The Associate’s program in Culinary at Greenville Technical College is based at their campus in the city of Greenville, South Carolina. Most of the school’s 12,280 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-district students is roughly in the order of $4,326 and are $4,686 and $8,550 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost roughly $1,157, although this will vary with the program.
78 Global Dr Ste 200, Greenville, South Carolina 29607
Pastry Arts – Certificate Program
Virginia College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. All programs are offered at their Greenville campus in the city of Greenville, SC. The majority of of the school’s 289 students are on 2-year programs. Tuition fees are around $14,632 annually.
Lower Savannah South Carolina nonmetropolitan area Area
Denmark Technical College
1126 Solomon Blatt Blvd, Denmark, South Carolina 29042
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program
The Certificate program in Culinary Arts at Denmark Technical College can be taken at their campus in Denmark in Bamberg County, South Carolina. The college has about 1,043 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is usually about $4,456 and for students from other states in the order of $7,796 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,500, depending on the program chosen.
Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, SC Area
Horry-Georgetown Technical College
2050 Highway 501 East, Conway, South Carolina 29526
Baking & Pastry Arts – Certificate Program
Horry-Georgetown Technical College offers various Certificate program options for chefs. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Conway, SC. Most of the school’s 7,097 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-district students is usually in the order of $4,978 and are $6,148 and $9,868 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,560, depending on the program chosen.
Spartanburg, SC Area
Spartanburg Community College
107 Community College Drive, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29303
Culinary Arts – Certificate Program
Spartanburg Community College’s Certificate-level Culinary Arts program is offered at their campus in Spartanburg in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. This public college has in the order of 4,928 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are generally about $4,300 and are $5,332 and $8,692 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively, while study materials may cost around $1,000, depending on the program.
* Tuition fees and accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with college before applying.
Residents of South Carolina may also wish to review their options in North Carolina and Georgia.